Monday, May 5, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks. (We have some. We need more.)

I'm writing this before the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign officially begins, and the hashtag is already trending on Twitter. People from all walks of the reading life are posting reasons we need more books for kids and teens that reflect the way our world really looks, and I couldn't be prouder of how it's catching on.

It's a fact of life as a brick-and-mortar store that we exist in one spot, and our demographics reflect that spot. But if you picture Brookline as an area where everyone looks, talks, and thinks alike, I urge you to look and listen to the people around you next time you walk through our doors. This is a place where a recent Chinese immigrant might ask where the bar mitzvah cards are. It's a place where you'll probably hear three or four languages in the course of a day. It's a place where I've seen firsthand that some things, especially some things about kids, are universal: a smile and a "she's so cute!" works across a language barrier, and parents from everywhere know that babies need books safe for chewing. It's also a place where adults use the YA section along with other sections as a resource for LGBT fiction, and where many parents light up when you tell them that a chapter book takes place in "Africa, amazing Africa!" Mommy, Mama, and Me sells here. So does Buenas Noches, Gorila. So does The Snowy Day, to customers of all colors and, for whatever reason, in all seasons. (I'm not complaining.) Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is rocking out. So is Out of My Mind. By and large, our customers recognize that there are people of all kinds in the world and welcome opportunities to share that truth with their kids.

A major goal of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is to combat the pervasive belief that "the market" won't support books with more diversity. I'm definitely not pretending that we - that I - don't have room to grow in the literature we read and produce and sell, but I hope we can serve as a small example of how #WeNeedDiverseBooks, because somebody bought the last copy on the shelf and it's time to restock.

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